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Click to view the October 2018 Ocean Status Update.


Maui Office of Economic Development Grant for Sustainable Security and Program Management for Kahoʻolawe Basecamp

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Because Reserve waters are protected by law, the region acts as a fish sanctuary that works to replenish fish stocks throughout the islands, particularly around Maui and Lanaʻi. To fully understand fish population dynamics, the Ocean team monitors fish habitat, growth rates and travel with the help of community volunteers and our permitted trolling program.


As a Reserve, Kahoʻolawe is rich with marine life that includes manō (sharks), naiʻa (dolphins), hāhālua (mantarays) and koholā (humpback whales). ʻIlioholoikauaua (monk seals), honu (turtles), and manu kai (seabirds) also utilize the Reserve’s coastal habitats. Counts by land, sea and air aim to establish a distribution and abundance baseline that will help determine whether numbers increase as a result of their protection.


More than 40 tons of marine debris have been removed from Kahoʻolawe over the past 3 years, specifically from Kanapou, Puhianenue and ʻOawawahie; 3 bays notorious for debris aggregation. A portion of the debris is subsequently repurposed on Maui for recycled arts and other educational programs. Grant-funded aerial surveys help to monitor the rate of influx of marine debris re-introduction, thereby setting focal points for future removal projects.


Coastal hikes and underwater surveys help to collect quantitative and qualitative information that is analyzed for seasonal trends and environmental abnormalities. Partners including The Nature Conservancy, NOAA (Humpback Whale Sanctuary, Maui) and University of Hawaiʻi have helped us inventory near shore fish populations, coral abundance and more to support ongoing monitoring and detect changes in environmental populations.


Click to view the October 2018 Restoration Status Update


Kahoʻolawe is being planted with native species that include trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and herbs. More than 400,000 native plants have been reintroduced to date. Only about 820 acres of the 12,800 most severely eroded acres can be replanted; the remaining land is barren hardpan-soil compacted so severely by erosion that it cannot readily absorb water.


Preventing Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and eradicating target species are key to the restoration of Kaho‘olawe. Our new, comprehensive biosecurity plan focuses on prevention, detection, quarantine, eradication and education. Activities include biological inventories on the island and at ports of departure, development of best management practices for our Maui nursery and ongoing control projects for rodents and khaki weed.


As a federally protected Reserve, Kahoʻolawe is a sanctuary for rare wildlife species in Hawaiʻi where human disturbance, development, and light pollution are negligible. Recognized as a top-ranked site for reintroduction and establishment of rare birds, restoring populations of these and other native wildlife will significantly advance opportunities for participation in and awareness of traditional Native Hawaiian cultural practices.


Click to view the Hui Kāpehe Status Update.


Cultural integration is emphasized in all facets of Kahoʻolawe's restoration. Traditionally, the island was considered a sacred place that was closely associated with Kanaloa, the Hawaiian deity of the ocean. Today it is still considered a sacred and spiritual place as well as a cultural treasure with numerous heiau, koʻa, and ahu on the island. The entire island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its archeological, cultural, and historic significance.


Kahoʻolawe is the only major island in the Pacific that has been archaeologically surveyed from coast to coast. There is now a total inventory of nearly 3,000 historic sites and features on the island.

The island retains an intact and unique record of all phases of the Hawaiian past from the adze maker's workshop at Puʻumoiwi to the fisherman's camp at Kealaikahiki, from the heiau at Hakioawa to the paniolo bunkhouse at Kuheia. These and other resources will provide education and inspiration for many generations.


The KIRC staff maintains the cultural essence of Kahoʻolawe by adhering to the ʻAha Pawalu, a protocol book written by the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation specifically for the KIRC. The book details sixteen chants and nine protocols, basic information that the KIRC staff recognizes and acknowledges as guidelines for proper cultural behavior.

A second book that may be used in the future is the Kalai Maoli Ola, which details specific protocols for different areas of the island.


Various ceremonies and rites are regularly performed on Kahoʻolawe using traditional cultural practices. The annual planting ceremony takes place every October at the beginning of the wet season, and people from both the KIRC and the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO) come together to give offerings and open the planting season. Cultural practitioners, usually from the PKO, perform seasonal ceremonies for Kane and Kanaloa during the solstices. Proper burial ceremonies are also held when iwi kupuna are found on the island.


Click to view the October 2018 Commission Project Status Update.


In 2014, the KIRC received a 2-year federal grant through the Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop a virtual museum pilot project. Designed in collaboration with cultural and library science consultants, the online database entitled the Kahoʻolawe Living Library presents a community-curated collection of archived photos for educational use. (Click our "Living Library" tab). By creating access to these resources, we further our mission of providing access to Kaho‘olawe. More. DOWNLOAD PDF PRESENTATION.


In FY17 an additional grant was made by IMLS to expand the database to a mobile "app". Achieved through two major activities: 1) expansion of our digitized pilot project collection of archived Kaho‘olawe materials, as directed by public demand and core program consultants; and 2) collaboration with KOA IT to design an interactive application for mobile use, the grant supports virtual exploration of the Reserve as users discover the archived collection, piece by piece and story by story. Expansion and design will continue through June 2018 with plans to apply for additional funding. More.


Public information, communications and regular one-on-one interactions are key to informing our community and decision-makers about the important work we are doing to improve the lives of the people of Hawaiʻi. Through our Ko Hema Lamalama newsletter, e-news bulletins, regular press releases, fact checking for media outlets, written testimony, conventions, events, speaking engagements, classroom visits, social media and more, this work is fundamental to building and sustaining relationships with our community. Interested in learning more? Contact mpulver@kirc.hawaii.gov.

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